Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas
Beaumont VA Clinic Now Open!
Tropical Storm Imelda forced Beaumont VA Outpatient Clinic to see Veterans out of tents for eight and half months. Gone now is any trace of the tents set up in the parking lot. The Beaumont clinic has been refurbished and is open for business.
“We functioned very well out of the tents,” said Liz Taylor, nurse manager at the Beaumont Outpatient Clinic. “We were able to learn from Hurricane Harvey. We knew what to expect and what was expected of us. Every challenge that we came upon, we just improved on what we were doing.”
The clinic was flooded on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2019. By the following Monday patients were being seen in the parking lot. VA reacted with amazing speed, said Taylor.
But the opportunity to return to clinical operations is a welcomed change.
“I am overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m ecstatic. It’s been a long time coming but we could see the progress every day. A lot of things we’ve wanted to have done for years we now were able to get them done—like the floors and baseboards. We also wanted a new color. While we could do this in places, we couldn’t do it all over because we couldn’t close the clinic. I’m very thankful for the resources we were given to renovate … I’m just very excited.”
The clinic sees about 3 patients per team and has eight teams. Staff continues to steer patients to telephone or video visits, but if they have a serious enough complaint, they are seen.
Army and Vietnam Veteran Richard Blaylock received care there on the clinic’s second day of being open. He needed an EKG on his heart, something that was not available during the days of the mobile hospital.
“It feels awesome to be back in the building that’s got all of the equipment to do what they need to do,” said Blaylock. “I’m just glad they are back together and ready to help us Veterans to the fullest. I am very thankful to the VA and the care here is awesome.”
The clinic is still working on getting fully functional. Pharmacy and x-ray should be up and running soon, with the laboratory expected to be operational in August. The clinic is doing primary care, mental health, and social work services among others.
The irony of the once-flooded clinic reopening on the first day of hurricane season is not lost on Taylor.
“That is on my mind,” she said. “We are just hopeful that we don’t get devastated like this again. I am concerned about it. The staff is concerned about it. But we’re just excited in the moment.”